Stepping Back in Time at the Buckhorn Exchange

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Alright, get ready for a dining experience unlike any other! Let’s talk about the Buckhorn Exchange, a Denver institution that’s part restaurant, part history museum, and a whole lot of Wild West vibes.

The Buckhorn Exchange first opened its doors in 1893, making it the oldest restaurant in Denver. Walking inside feels like stepping back into a cowboy saloon. The walls are covered, and I mean covered, in over 500 taxidermy displays – deer heads, mountain lions, even a moose with a truly impressive set of antlers. Add in the historic photos and antique firearms, and it’s sensory overload in the best possible way.

But Wait, It Gets Weirder…

Buckhorn Exchange doesn’t just embrace history, it’s got some seriously unique claims to fame:

  • Presidential Visits: Five U.S. presidents have dined here (Teddy Roosevelt would definitely approve of the setting).
  • Famous Bullet Holes: Look closely, and you’ll spot some lingering bullet holes in the bar, remnants of a true “Wild West” moment in the restaurant’s history.
  • Liquor License #1: They proudly hold Denver’s very first liquor license issued after Prohibition, and the bar is stocked to prove it.

Okay, Let’s Talk About the Food

If you think the menu at Buckhorn Exchange is all steaks and baked potatoes, you’re in for a surprise. Sure, those classics are there, but they’re also known for their adventurous “frontier food”:

  • Rocky Mountain Oysters: Yep, that’s a euphemism. These deep-fried bull… parts… are a Colorado tradition, and if you’re feeling brave, this is the place to try them.
  • Rattlesnake: It’s true! They serve up this unique protein, often as an appetizer. People say it tastes a bit like chicken, but way cooler to tell your friends about.
  • Alligator Tail: Another unexpected treat with a mild flavor and slightly chewy texture.
  • Elk, Buffalo, and More: If you want to sample Colorado’s wild game, the Buckhorn Exchange delivers with mouthwatering preparations.

Of Course, There’s Normal Food, Too

Not everyone’s feeling adventurous, and that’s okay! The Buckhorn Exchange has plenty to offer less daring palates:

  • Stellar Steaks: They may have the wild stuff, but they also know their way around a prime cut of beef.
  • Hearty Sandwiches: Perfect for lunch, their sandwiches are piled high and perfect if you’ve worked up an appetite walking around downtown Denver.
  • Kids’ Favorites: They may have rattlesnake, but they also have mac and cheese. Something for everyone!

Honestly, the Buckhorn Exchange is about more than the meal itself. It’s a place to soak up the atmosphere, explore a slice of Denver’s past, and maybe even expand your culinary horizons if you’re up for it.

Tips Before You Go:

  • Reservations Recommended: This place is popular with locals and tourists alike. Snagging a reservation, especially for dinner, makes things easier.
  • History Buffs, Take Note: The staff are incredibly knowledgeable about the restaurant’s history and artifacts. Ask questions!
  • Not Just for Dinner: They’re open for lunch and the bar scene alone is worth experiencing for a drink and that old-timey atmosphere.

Whether you’re a Denver local looking for a unique night out or a visitor wanting an authentic taste of the Wild West (with excellent food!), the Buckhorn Exchange is one experience you won’t forget anytime soon.

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